We all use electricity, but it’s probably safe to say that we all hate receiving the hefty electricity bill that goes along with it. However, saving energy and in fact being energy efficient is by the far the most impactful way Australian households can deal with the rising cost of electricity. In simple terms, ‘energy efficiency’ means using less energy to achieve the same result, and in the home, it’s all about being smart about how you use electricity without compromising your level of comfort. A range of factors determine a home’s energy usage, including climate, the size and design of your home, your appliances and your family’s habits and personal preferences.
Here are our top 7 energy saving tips.
#1 – Hot water
Over half of our hot water usage is in the bathroom, a third in the laundry and the remainder in the kitchen, and heating water for these activities makes up around 25% of energy use in the average Australian household. That’s why it’s important to use an efficient hot water system that suits your family’s needs, which will not only reduce the amount of hot water you use, it can reduce your energy costs and the impact on the environment. There are two basic types of water heaters on the market – storage and instantaneous (continuous) flow systems, and they use a variety of energy sources to heat water including solar, electricity, gas (both LPG and natural gas) and ambient air (air-sourced heat pumps).
In terms of energy efficiency, tariffs offered by your energy provider can also lower the operating costs of the system you have installed. Your best bet? Check out the government’s energy rating website, and do your research!
#2 – Heating and cooling
On average, 40% of the energy we use in our homes is for heating and cooling, and it varies depending on where you live and the type of heating and/or cooling systems you install. The number of stars on the energy rating label and how you operate and maintain your system can also have a big impact, but so can ‘passive’ heating and cooling measures.
In terms of heating, energy saving tips you can adopt include:
- Insulating your roof, walls, ceiling and floors
- Minimising draughts from around windows and doors
- Closing doors to rooms that you’re not using such as the laundry and bathroom
- Opening curtains during the day to let in the sun, and closing curtains at night to stop heat loss
- Installing double-glazed windows
- Using rugs or carpets on slab or timber floors
- Fitting downlight and vent covers to prevent heat rising into your ceilings
In terms of cooling and reducing energy bills:
- Insulating your ceiling, roof, walls and floors
- Shading your windows from the summer sun using external devices such as roller blinds
- Closing curtains to keep the heat out
- Keeping windows shut in the hottest parts of the day
- Opening up your home to let in breezes
- Enhancing air flow by opening low-positioned windows to let breezes in and high windows to let hot air out
- Installing vented ridges, roof ventilators and ventilated eaves to allow heat to escape from your roof
#3 – Appliances
Up to 30% of your home energy use is due to the use of appliances, and how often you use them and how you operate them can have a big impact on how much energy you use. It’s important to choose the right sized appliance for your needs – a larger model with the same star rating as a smaller model uses more energy, which can have a negative impact on your power bills. In terms of saving energy, you should also try and turn off appliances at their power outlet when you’re not using them. Many appliances continue to draw on stand-by power even when they’re turned off, which can contribute up to 10% of your household’s electricity usage. And make sure you maintain your appliances well. An efficient seal on a fridge or a clogged filter in a dishwasher can significant affect its performance and therefore increase its running costs.
#4 – Lighting
Energy usage in Australia in terms of household lighting has rapidly increased, and it now consumes between eight and 15% of the average household’s electricity costs. Thankfully, most homes can reduce this figure by 50% or more by making smarter lighting choices and moving to more energy efficient technologies. Some of these include:
- Turning off lights when nobody is in the room
- Considering the type of light bulbs you use
- Installing energy efficient lighting like LED lighting and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs)
- Using natural light via skylights and windows
#5 – Entertainment
Home entertainment products alone are responsible for over 5% of our household energy use, which is actually more than your dryer, dishwasher and washing machine combined! In order to assist with reducing energy bills:
- Switch TV’s off at the wall when they’re not in use
- Switch off other entertainment devices (including smart phones, home theatre systems, computers and video game consoles) when nobody’s using them
- Try to reduce the size, number and variety of home gadgets that you actually use
#6 – Home design
If you looking to build a new home or undertake renovations on your existing home, thinking about sustainable home design will not only save you money on your power bills, it can substantially reduce the impact on the environment. In terms of energy efficiency:
- Use renewable construction materials
- Choose durable, long-lasting materials that are low maintenance
- Try to minimise building waste
- If using timber for frames, windows, decking and flooring, source it from certified sustainably managed forests
- Use light-coloured, low-emission interior paints to improve daylight levels and reduce toxic fumes
- Consider recycled building materials where you can
#7 – Solar power
Queensland has one of the highest rates of rooftop solar panel usage in the world, and more than 1.84 million roof-top systems were installed across Australia as of March this year. Once the upfront costs of a solar power system are met and the system is fully installed, solar panels require little maintenance, last for over 20 years and the electricity they generate is free. New developments in lithium-ion battery systems are also enabling households to get more out their solar power systems, and being able to store excess energy means households can become less reliant on buying electricity from the grid.
Feed-in-tariff rates are also offered by many electricity retailers, which involve a payment for electricity that you don’t use that’s fed back into the electricity grid. Because there is no mandated rate for exported electricity, retailers need to remain competitive and shopping around can secure you the best deal.
Need some advice how to reduce your electricity bills? Contact the experts at Peak Voltage today on (07) 3272 7325.